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How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment

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  • Sebastian Fehrler
  • Niall Hughes

Abstract

We investigate the potential of transparency to influence committee decision-making. We present a model in which career concerned committee members receive private information of different type-dependent accuracy, deliberate, and vote. We study three levels of transparency under which career concerns are predicted to affect behavior differently and test the model's key predictions in a laboratory experiment. The model's predictions are largely borne out—transparency negatively affects information aggregation at the deliberation and voting stages, leading to sharply different committee error rates than under secrecy. This occurs despite subjects revealing more information under transparency than theory predicts.

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  • Sebastian Fehrler & Niall Hughes, 2018. "How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 181-209, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:181-209
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20160046
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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